According to research published in The Permanente Journal, plantar fasciitis affects two million people in the U.S. This condition can affect everyone regardless of lifestyle or age. Still, active individuals and those between the ages of 40 and 60 are at increased risk. Read on to learn more about it and the connection between barefoot shoes and plantar fasciitis.
Understanding Plantar Fasciitis
Also referred to as “jogger’s heel,” plantar fasciitis is one of the top causes of heel pain. With this condition, the plantar fascia — the band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes — becomes inflamed and painful.
The symptoms include an Achilles tendon that feels tight and causes pain:
- On the bottom of the heel.
- In the arch of the foot.
- That’s worse in the morning or upon standing up after sitting or lying down for long periods.
- That gets worse after prolonged physical activity.
Plantar fasciitis pain can be dull or stabbing, and over time, the pain and inflammation can result in decreased quality of life. Doing your daily activities, even walking or standing, can begin to feel uncomfortable or painful.
Who Gets Plantar Fasciitis?
People of any age can have this condition. However, certain factors increase the likelihood of developing plantar fasciitis. These include:
- Being a runner.
- Being an athlete.
- Having flat feet or high arches.
- Being overweight or obese.
- Having a job that requires you to be on your feet for long periods, such as working as a nurse, a server, or a teacher.
- Often wearing shoes that have high heels or are too tight.
Can the Right Footwear Help With Plantar Fasciitis?
According to Cleveland Clinic, more than 90 percent of people with plantar fasciitis will see improvement in their symptoms within 10 months just through home remedies, such as:
- Stretching the calf muscles.
- Massaging your muscles.
- The RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation).
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen and ibuprofen.
In the past, podiatrists cautioned against walking barefoot or without proper padding or arch support as it may lead to plantar fasciitis. However, a growing body of research suggests that barefoot walking and minimalist footwear may actually help prevent plantar fasciitis.
Are Minimalist Shoes Good for Your Feet?
While in the past, doctors stressed the importance of wearing supportive footwear, such as running shoes or using orthotics, many medical professionals today recommend using minimalist shoes.
Minimalist shoes are designed to replicate the feeling of walking barefoot for the wearer. They have minimal cushioning, with a heel-to-toe drop of just 8 mm or less, compared to 10 to 12 mm in conventional running shoes. With minimalist shoes, you can feel the ground underneath your feet as you walk. Plantar fasciitis minimalist shoes, or shoes ideal for people with this condition, are typically lightweight without all the bells and whistles of athletic footwear.
The Truth About Barefoot Shoes and Plantar Fasciitis
Some experts state that wearing supportive footwear can, over time, contribute to weakness in the foot muscles.
Additionally, regular running or cross-training shoes are hard to bend at the first metatarsophalangeal joint (MPJ), located at the base of the big toe. As a result, the wearer may need to flex their toes harder to walk. Hyperextension of the MPJ increases the stiffness of the forefoot plantar soft tissue, altering the gait.
In turn, an altered or unnatural gait can contribute to plantar fasciitis.
According to an article published by Cleveland Clinic, poor running form can cause the muscles in the feet and legs to fire inefficiently, leading to overuse injuries such as plantar fasciitis.
On the other hand, minimalist footwear helps stabilize and strengthen a flat arch. What’s more, walking or even running in minimalist shoes helps improve your form and allows you to transition to a way of moving that is more natural for your body.
While more research needs to be done to determine further how the mechanics of barefoot or minimalist walking and running strengthens feet, the answer to “are minimalist shoes good for your plantar fasciitis” is a resounding yes. However, be sure to transition to minimal footwear correctly using the following best practices to avoid injuries:
- Take It Slow: When you first start wearing minimalist shoes, you should have short walking sessions of about 15 to 20 minutes to help your feet get used to it. Then, over time, you can increase how far and long you walk and run in plantar fasciitis minimalist shoes.
- Stop If It Hurts: If you feel pain or discomfort, pause and rest your feet. It’s best not to force yourself to walk or run if it hurts.
- Exercise Your Feet: Stretches and exercises can help reduce pain and strengthen your feet simultaneously. Calf stretches and toe curls are some examples. You can also use a tennis ball as a foot massage tool: place one on the ground, put your foot over it and gently roll it underneath your arch for three to five minutes.
- Textured insoles: Wear textured insoles that will allow for more cushion and sensory stimulation while you transition.
Plantar Fasciitis Minimalist Shoes: Good for Foot Health and the Environment
Discarded sneakers often end up in landfills and take a long time to decompose — from 30 years to 100 or even longer. Dumping sneakers or even incinerating them also causes the harmful chemicals used in their manufacture to be released into the environment.
On the other hand, companies that manufacture minimalist shoes focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness. One example is Origo Shoes.
All the minimalist shoes offered by Origo are made with locally sourced, natural materials, including vegan-friendly ones like cactus leather, cotton canvas, and corn starch. Origo also manufactures shoes from sustainable leather certified by the Leather Working Group (LWG), a nonprofit composed of brands that work together to drive environmental stewardship in the leather industry.
What’s more, Origo Shoes aims to:
- Keep their entire supply and production chain within North America, minimizing the need for long-haul transport and reducing their carbon footprint.
- Ensure ethical working standards for its team of artisans.
- Use eco-friendly packaging, such as garden-compostable wrappers.
- Donate to One Tree Planted, an organization dedicated to the reforestation of the Amazon, for every pair sold.
Plantar Fasciitis Minimalist Shoes by Origo
Our minimalist footwear replicates the freedom of walking barefoot. The footwear is available in kids and adult sizes, with a variety of styles for men and women. View the collection online, or visit the FAQ section for more information on Origo footwear.